Decision to be taken about on-site créche following review

Posted on: 1 September 2016

An on-site crèche is likely to close following a review into the under-used service for parents accessing mental health services at Compass House, Exeter.

The ‘decision’, which is subject to consideration by Devon County Council’s People Scrutiny Committee next Monday (5 September), comes after a 6-week public consultation exercise which ended in July.

The Council took over responsibility for managing the crèche in April 2016 from Devon Partnership NHS Trust, which provides mental health services from the site.

The crèche is currently used solely by parents accessing services at the site, where it provides childminding for children aged 8 months to 4 years old and older siblings during the school holidays while they attend adult mental health counselling appointments, depression and anxiety clinics, etc.

The £22,700 a year service has been available on Tuesday – Thursday mornings and employs three part-time members of staff.

The review found the crèche was used by just 47 children during an eight week period from April with some days recording no attendance at all and few sessions recording more than two children attending.

Whilst parents pay £1.50 per session the total cost per child per hour was £81.91.

The review also found that there is a wide range of alternative provision within the area with 15 registered childcare providers within a mile of Compass House, and a further 53 registered childcare providers within a five mile radius.

Senior Clinicians at Devon Partnership Trust advised that there is no clinical reason or need for an on-site crèche facility.

Cllr Stuart Barker2Councillor Stuart Barker, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care said:

“It is clear from consultation that this créche is valued by those who have used it.

“But with no clinical reason for such an on-site service and with the numbers using it falling so low it has become simply unsustainable.

“Having asked people why, how and when they currently use it, we are satisfied that many other child care options are available in the local vicinity that can provide a far more flexible and convenient alternative for parents.

“Help and support for parents to make their own alternative childcare arrangements will be available so that people can continue to attend appointments in future.”

As part of the consultation all alternatives to closure were considered. This included increasing the charge to parents using the service and opening it up for use by everyone in the local community (which would require re-registration with Ofsted).

These were dismissed as being unlikely to result in a service which could operate and sustain a service at a cost equivalent to the identified local alternatives.

Similar on-site crèche facilities are NOT currently available in any other part of Devon where people have always made their own childcare arrangements whilst attending mental health appointments.

The ‘decision’ is subject to further consideration at People’s Scrutiny Committee on Monday (5 September), and nothing can be enacted until after the result of this process is complete.

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